The Right to Read Symposium

This workshop recording is now available for purchase.

Join us for the Right to Read Symposium where we will investigate and unpack the recommendations proposed by the Ontario Human Rights Commission's Right to Read Inquiry.

During this full-day professional learning opportunity, we will be joined by leading international experts. They will discuss the Inquiry's key recommendations,  why each is important, and how educators and policy-makers can begin to work together to implement these necessary changes.


Patricia DeGuire | Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission

Patricia DeGuire is a Woman-of-colour who pushes boundaries to ensure access to justice, equality and equity. Before being appointed Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission in August 2021, Patricia served as a Deputy Judge with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, on various tribunals and boards, and has played a leading role in many equity organizations, particularly related to anti-Black racism. She is a constitutional law scholar, and an avid mentor and coach for young people and adults in the legal and other professions.


Kareem Weaver  

Kareem Weaver is a member of the Oakland NAACP Education Committee, a leader of Full and Complete Reading is a Universal Mandate (FULCRUM), and was an award-winning teacher and administrator in Oakland, California, and Columbia, South Carolina. 

Kareem has an undergraduate degree from Morehouse College and a master's in Clinical-Community Psychology from the University of South Carolina.

Kareem believes literacy is our most important civil right. He is fighting for a world where 95% of children can read. With a focus on Black and brown children, Kareem demands to bring science-based reading instruction to schools.   

You can learn more about Kareem's work and his non-profit FULCRUM (Full and Complete Reading is a Universal Mandate) here


Dr. Jennifer Buckingham

Jennifer Buckingham is Director of Strategy at MultiLit and a Senior Research Fellow in the MultiLit Research Unit. She is also founder and director of the FIVE from FIVE reading project. The FIVE from FIVE project is a policy research and advocacy campaign to bridge the gap between evidence and practice in reading instruction.

Jennifer has been writing on education policy for almost two decades, and has published papers on school funding, literacy, international assessments,  boys’ education, teacher training and employment, class size, and educational disadvantage. She has published more than 200 op-eds and is frequently invited to provide advice to governments and other school authorities.

Jennifer’s doctoral research was on effective interventions for struggling readers. Her recent publications are ‘Systematic phonics belongs in evidence-based reading programs’ in the journal Educational and Developmental Psychologist and Short-changed: Preparation to teaching reading in initial teacher education, co-authored with Linda Meeks.

Jennifer is a board member of the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) and The Centre for Independent Studies.

Dr. Nadine Gaab, PHD 

Nadine Gaab is an associate professor of Education at Harvard University. Her work focuses on typical/atypical learning trajectories from infancy to adolescence, with a special emphasis on language/reading development and the role of the environment in shaping these trajectories. Her work is at the intersection of developmental psychology, learning sciences, neuroscience, EdTech, and educational policy within a learning disability framework.

Her research laboratory employs longitudinal behavioral and neuroimaging studies to characterize differences in learning as a complex outcome of cumulative risk and protective factors interacting within and across genetic, neurobiological, cognitive, and environmental levels from infancy to adolescence. Her theoretical work focuses on multifactorial frameworks of learning differences with an emphasis on early identification and ‘preventive education’. One important key aspect of her work is the translation of research findings to address contemporary challenges in educational practice and policy with a special focus on screening for dyslexia and early literacy milestones.

She is the 2019 recipient of the Learning Disabilities Association America Award for her work on learning disabilities. Furthermore, she has received the Norman Geschwind Memorial lecture 2020 and the Alice Garside Award from the International Dyslexia Association for outstanding leadership in advancing the science and advocacy of dyslexia. She also received the Allan Crocker Award for advocacy on behalf of children with reading disabilities and efforts to pass the Massachusetts screening legislation. She currently is an associate editor for the Journal of Learning Disabilities, Scientific Studies of Reading, and Developmental Science. Furthermore, she is the co-founder of EarlyBird Education, a gamified platform system for identifying children at-risk for language-based learning disabilities. 


Dr. Kim St. Martin 

Kim is associate director of Michigan's MTSS Technical Assistance Center.

The Technical Assistance Center helps intermediate and local school districts implement and sustain a multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) in their schools to improve student outcomes in behavior and learning. MTSS focuses on providing high-quality instruction and interventions matched to student need.

The TA Center focuses on evidence-based practices implemented with fidelity that are sustainable over time. The TA Center utilizes data-based decision-making at all levels of implementation support.

Dr. St. Martin’s focus in the TA Center is on regional and district implementation infrastructure efforts to scale-up the successful use of an MTSS framework. Additionally, Kim is responsible for providing literacy expertise for the Office of Special Education. Prior to working with the TA Center, Kim was a school administrator and teacher in an urban and rural school district.


Dr. Todd Cunningham | C. Psych | Clinic Founder and Practice Supervisor 

Dr. Cunningham leads the Bright Lights Psychology Team. He is a school and clinical psychologist registered in Ontario. He also is an assistant professor [teaching stream] at the University of Toronto and is chair of the School and Clinical Child Psychology program. Dr. Cunningham received his PhD in School and Clinical Child Psychology program at the University of Toronto and later completed his postdoctoral studies at the Hospital for Sick Children in neuropsychology.

Over the past five years, Dr. Cunningham has been invited to do workshops on assessment throughout Canada. He has given over 600 presentations and workshops internationally to educators and psychologists on learning disabilities and how to support students with learning difficulties. He is also actively involved in the field of school psychology advocacy and is a member of the Ontario Psychological Association working group on Learning Disability and Remote Assessment. In addition, he is a board member of the Learning Disability Association of Ontario. 

At Bright Lights, Dr. Cunningham specializes in conducting psychoeducational assessments and treating mental health challenges such as: anxiety and mood-related disorders; attention difficulties; and complex trauma. His area of expertise is in working with children with learning disabilities and using assistive technology.


Kelly Butler

Kelly Butler is the Chief Executive Officer of The Barksdale Reading Institute (BRI). The Institute’s literacy work encompasses early childhood and parenting for school readiness, professional development for PK-3 teachers and literacy coaches, improving teacher preparation for early literacy instruction, and developing literacy leaders. Kelly spearheaded BRI’s development of The Reading Universe©, a detailed scope and sequence for training teachers on how to deliver sequential, systemic, explicit reading instruction ( Ms. Butler is the author of two statewide studies and developed a subsequent statewide initiative to improve teacher preparation programs focused on early literacy instruction in Mississippi’s 15 public and private universities. A former high school teacher in the Greenwich, Connecticut Public Schools, Ms. Butler holds a bachelor’s degree in Special Education from The University of Alabama and a master’s degree in Administration, Planning and Social Policy from Harvard University. She served by appointment to the Governor’s Task Force on Teacher Preparation for Early Literacy Instruction, the State Reading Panel, and the Governor’s Task Force on Educator Workforce Development. She is a founding member of the Higher Education Literacy Council of Mississippi, a founding member of the Affinity Group of Education Grantmakers, a member of the Advisory Board for the Southeast Regional Educational Lab (SE/REL), a board member of Springboard to Opportunity, and a national advisory board member for First Book. Kelly has levered the Institute’s successful track record to initiate several multi-organization and multi-state initiatives, including The Big Dippers Short Course in the Science of Reading for Teach For America’s National Institute, A Path Forward: Bringing the Science of Reading to Teacher Preparation and Licensure, and a twenty-member national team of reading experts to review the teacher preparation programs in a neighboring state.